Mark Rowley’s Met Police will offer ‘more of the same’ on race, campaigners fear

New Met Commissioner ‘has never shown himself as being out to understand racism’, former police superintendent says.

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Tuesday 12 July 2022 12:06 BST
Sir Mark Rowley has been appointed as the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner by the Home Secretary Priti Patel
Sir Mark Rowley has been appointed as the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner by the Home Secretary Priti Patel (PA Media)

The new Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley is unlikely to take a tough stance on tackling racism in policing, a former superintendent fears.

Mr Rowley, the former National Police Chiefs Council’s counterterrorism lead, retired from policing in 2018 but was confirmed to be returning as the Met Police’s chief on Friday.

However, Leroy Logan, 65, said he was not “enthralled” upon learning of his former colleague’s appointment, claiming he was “more of the same” and no different from his predecessor Cressida Dick.

“Mark Rowley has never shown himself out to understand equality, diversity and inclusion - in particular racism, systemic or otherwise. He’s a chip off the old block, the same block that Cressida Dick was honed from,” Mr Logan, one of the first Black officers in the Met, said.

Despite his low expectations, Mr Logan said “the jury is definitely still out and the only way is up. He might surprise me and surprise us all. But there’s nothing for me to rejoice about. So at this stage, let’s see what he comes up with. Talk is cheap - it’s the action that counts.”

The former policeman’s comments come as the Met faces sustained criticism for failing to properly tackle discrimination within its ranks after a series of scandals hit the service.

They include Operation Hotton, which revealed a culture of racism within the Met evidenced through WhatsApp messages, to a string of concerning stop-and-searches and officers taking selfies with the bodies of murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

Mr Rowley, 57, has spent three decades working in policing and has pledged to be “ruthless” in removing officers who are “corrupting our integrity”.

He said: “We will deliver more trust, less crime and high standards for London and beyond, and we will work with London’s diverse communities as we together renew the uniquely British invention of ‘policing by consent’.”

Former Met Police superintendent Leroy Logan (Leroy Logan/Rich Barr)

While 80 per cent of the incidents that the police respond to are social in nature rather than crime-based, campaigners are calling for policing by consent to be withdrawn and replaced with a new model of policing which sees officers responding solely to crime while giving communities the power, structure and funding to meet their own needs.

During a 2019 interview with the BBC, the new Met chief partly blamed the rise of the far-right in UK on the “lack of integration” of ethnic minorities which caused offence. He also claimed that it was “clumsy” to suggest that Islamophobia and racism are the same thing.

Michael Morgan, who hosts a Twitter Spaces forum dedicated to issues around policing, told The Independent: “Mark Rowley does not come to the table with a good track record where Black and minority issues are concerned.”

“Has he admitted the Met Police are institutionally racist? Not to my knowledge. This gaslighting is set to continue under his watch if his previous comments are anything to go by. This warped victim-blaming does not fill me with confidence.”

The Met Police Service, which was recently placed under special measures following a series of scandals, is failing Londoners, Mr Morgan added: “What we effectively have here is a tone-deaf reshuffling of the deck chairs aboard the Titanic.

“The Met ship is sinking, the special measures tell me this, the numerous people who speak in my Twitter Spaces tell me this and anonymous online police spouting bile, racism and issuing death threats, from behind blue line avatars, tell me this.

“We, the Black community, were not involved in the decision-making process to bring Mark Rowley onboard. His appointment from a pool of all-white faces is not surprising. The Met Police’s failure to engender trust in the Black community will continue as long as we are victimised and targeted in this way. It’s time the Met police delivered the service we are due instead of the force they are so keen to dispense.”

Mr Rowley and the Home Office declined to respond to the criticism from Mr Logan and Mr Morgan.

(PA Archive)

Separately, Mr Rowley told The Independent that he was “determinedly serious” about issues around race and violence against women, after being criticised for not mentioning either of the two issues in the statement addressing his appointment.

A spokesperson from the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board (ISOB) said: "The board awaits with interest Sir Mark’s action plan to substantively rebuild the broken trust between the Metropolitan Police and London’s Black communities, which have borne the brunt of violent policing, political scandal and institutionalised racism.

“Sir Mark and wider leadership within the Met must take this opportunity to look inwards, understand what’s gone wrong and urgently take steps to reform the MPS culture and its inefficient and discriminatory policies and practices.”

Black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, five times more likely to be subjected to the use of force and over three times more likely to die following contact with police.

This comes as the director of the UK Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has warned of a deepening “culture of extremism” amongst police officers across the UK and Europe.

In a new paper for the IRR’s journal Race & Class, published on Saturday, Liz Fekete highlighted numerous cases of racist and misogynistic attitudes and far-right entryism amongst police officers, pointing toward a systemic problem that challenges police forces’ ‘few rotten apples’ narrative.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has welcomed Mr Rowley’s appointment following criticism of former chief Ms Dick over her handling of a series of scandals, which plagued the Met during her time in post. Some 90 per cent of Met officers who are disciplined for racism keep their jobs, it emerged after her resignation in March.

With an annual salary of just under £293,000, Mr Rowley’s appointment is for an initial five-year term.

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